DORAL, Fla. – Maybe it was a less-than-encouraging forecast, or a field that looked more “who’s this?” than “who’s who.” Either way, the buzz about Doral heading into the weekend was something just south of a Heat vs. Knicks matinee.
Good news, however. The answer to golf’s stupor seems at hand, what with the powers that be hammering out a “Groovegate” Détente and one superstar committing to Bay Hill while another plays coy.
John Solheim. The Ping peacemaker had no compelling reason to let the U.S. Golf Association, and the PGA Tour, off the hook, but he did, and the game is better for it.
The word is Solheim’s “Get out of jail free card” came with the stipulation that before the USGA shakes anymore equipment rollback bushes that the manufacturers are brought into the loop earlier and their voices are heard.
No word what this is going to do to the Ping Eye 2 after-market, but we hear Phil Mickelson has a few left-handed versions of the pre-1990 club that can be had for cheap.
Phil Mickelson. Virtually fresh off a plane from Houston, where his wife is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Lefty stood at 4 under par following his second round at the WGC-CA Championship.
Although his scorecard was hardly press-stopping stuff, Mickelson’s start was an encouraging triumph of mind over things that matter at a time when golf needs Lefty more than he needs golf.
On Thursday Lefty also delivered on a promise to add an event to his schedule, announcing he will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational later this month to make up for skipping the WGC-Match Play.
Not a bad trade for Bay Hill, but Accenture must feel like they just dished Michael Jordan for Kevin Duckworth and a player to be named later.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Offense. If reports are correct and Tiger Woods has hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer the move would be a strong indication that Camp Tiger has stopped playing defense and started moving north and south.
Fleischer was the architect of shamed-slugger Mark McGwire’s reentry plan to baseball this year and you may not have liked Big Mac’s message but you had to respect the delivery.
How much influence Fleischer has remains to be seen. So far this week reports have surfaced that Woods will make his Tour debut at the unofficial Tavistock Cup, Bay Hill, the Masters and the Isleworth member-member . . . or, something like that.
With Woods it’s probably best to throw a dart at a board, because it doesn’t matter if George W. Bush is barking orders, when it comes to all things golf Tiger only listens to Tiger.
Mickelson II. Lefty get’s the double nod this week for his decision to go with two drivers in the bag at Doral. We’ve seen this movie before at the 2008 U.S. Open and didn’t much care for it then either.
It does, however, prompt a few ideas for other players. Perhaps Ben Crane could play with two stopwatches because one would probably not be enough, Jean Van de Velde could go with two caddies because the first one couldn’t get the job done at Carnoustie a few years back and Ryan Moore could pack away a second wardrobe because the first one never works.
Monty’s API freebie. Officials announced this week that European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie had been given a sponsor exemption into the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Among the litany of questionable exemptions this year this one takes the taco. Monty certainly has had a wonderful career, but Bay Hill is an important event for many up-and-coming players who will likely need the spot.
Besides, the Tour already has enough grumpy. There’s no need to import it.
Stupid questions. Contrary to our journalism school professor, there are such things as stupid questions. Exhibit A came on Wednesday at Doral when the infinitely-tolerant Padraig Harrington was asked whether a victory this week would be a triumph for Ireland or Britain.
“By asking that question you haven’t shown very much insight into anything so I’ll let you go do your homework,” Harrington said. “I’m not from Britain. I’m Irish. I’m from the other side of the Republic – green, white and orange.”
Color the misguided scribe red with embarrassment.